Leadership Trust

Trust is one of life’s greatest commodities. My friend’s 10 week old baby girl already knows to trust the sound of her mother’s voice and the safety of her daddy’s arms.

Earning trust and extending trust become a natural part of our life rhythm.

The same is true in our leadership.  Trust is foundational to our leadership relationships.

While there is much that can be said about earning the trust of those you lead, I want to focus for a minute on earning the trust of those that lead you.  Oftentimes I believe we overlook the importance of earning the trust of the person who is empowering your leadership.

To earn leadership trust, I believe you need to display these three things well:

  1. Accountability
  2. Communication
  3. Consistency


Leadership is a big responsibility and contrary to what many new leaders assume, it doesn’t come with autonomy.  In fact, I believe leadership requires greater accountability.  As a leader you have to determine who you are accountable to and then find out what accountability means to them.  For some that may mean checking in daily, for others it may mean weekly.  Know their expectation and then live up to it.


Learn what your leader values and then make sure he/she knows about it.  I suggest you over-communicate first and then get feedback from them on what they really want to know.  The more you are looping them in, the more confident they’ll feel about your leadership and the more quickly you’ll earn their trust.  I’ll add one caution though: communication doesn’t mean popping into their office repeatedly throughout the day.  Respect their time and their schedule and work within that.  The most important thing you can do each week is come prepared with a thorough update for your weekly meeting time (assuming you have one).  Never come unprepared to a meeting with your boss – NEVER!  Unpreparedness erodes trust.


Be consistent.  Consistently do what you say you’ll do.  Consistently deliver on what is asked of you… and in the time frame it was requested.  Unpredictability erodes trust. If you can’t be counted on, you can’t be trusted.

Having the complete trust of your leader is an amazing gift, but don’t expect it.  Earn it!

Do you agree?  What would you add to the list?

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  • uberVU - social comments April 8, 2010  

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    This post was mentioned on Twitter by jennicatron: Are you earning your leader’s trust? http://twurl.nl/8whauu

  • Blake Bergstrom April 8, 2010  

    Wow…I am really feeling like a donkey for not reading the book you told me to read for our mtg this week!!! Thanks for your leadership around here Jenni and I am sorry for the times that I have come unprepared! I'm reading all weekend to be prepared for our Tuesday mtg…or I might be body slammed by my boss!!! 🙂

    • jcatron April 8, 2010  

      Thanks @Blake. I'm blessed to work with you!

  • Richard_Westley April 8, 2010  

    excellent post jenni. i have been dealing with "leading up" over the past year and without much success. i haven't gotten the feedback or direction regarding expectations i've been looking for from executive leaders.

    I've held five different positions at my church and the latest position has caused the most tension and disappointment from both parties.

    i do feel encouraged by this post to diligently press on and over communicate and continuing asking questions. thanks again for sharing your thoughts. i'll pass it on…

    • jcatron April 8, 2010  

      @Richard – thanks for sharing your experience. This post is obviously one-sided. I need to write an entire other post to address how that leader needs to react and engage with those they lead. It's definitely a two-way street.

  • jennyrain April 8, 2010  

    Follow through. For me, customer service is a passion… because i've had so much bad customer service (CS). One of the things, I believe, that separates good CS from great CS is follow through, not letting things fall through the cracks. My bosses – I believe – deserve good CS too and for me… that means follow through. I want them to feel like they can count on me to follow through on things I say I'm going to do.

  • Jack April 8, 2010  

    Great post Jenni…driving us to look up to gain trust instead of always evaluating those under us. Faithful execution of these pays big bene’s…thanks for the fresh reminder.

  • Jan Owen April 10, 2010  

    I'd add this – if you serve in a church as a leader, your life must match your words. When those things don't equal up, you're toast.

  • Ron Swanson April 10, 2010  

    Great thoughts Jenni, thanks!

  • Pingback: Trust and Compliance | Compliance Building May 11, 2010  
  • Kristin May 12, 2010  


    Congratulations! Your post has been selected to be part of the Carnival of Trust, hosted this month by Julian Summerhayes.

    The Carnival is held each month and highlights the best posts dealing with the subject of trust in business, politics and society. We feel your post made a fantastic addition to this month's Carnival and we cannot wait to see what else you have in store.

    The Carnival can be viewed here:http://www.juliansummerhayes.com/?p=173

    Congratulations again!

    Kristin Abele http://www.trustedadvisor.com/trustmatters